The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts


Helen O'Leary Studio Image cropped

For studio artists, the impulse to create is motivated by curiosity, inquiry and purpose, and is a lifelong search of self-discovery in the pursuit of cultural engagement and public awareness. The studio experience is exploratory and action-based and yields new possibilities or productive failures. Irrespective of the setting in which art is made and experienced, what is common is its power to transform human awareness, insight, and understanding.

The studio program is led by faculty members who are practicing visual artists and scholars of contemporary art. Faculty foster students’ habits of mind and enhance their individual ability for invention, adaptation, reflection, risk-taking, and to trust where these unique dispositions might take them. Students explore their creative and critical capacities in all studio areas and in studies of history, theory and culture.

A wide-ranging menu of courses in traditional and new media disciplines are offered in the studio program, including: Ceramics, Drawing and Painting, New Media, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture. Coursework in these areas cover all levels, from introductory foundations through graduate study. Interdisciplinary work across these areas and levels is encouraged by faculty and student example, special topics coursework, the Critical Studies support area, and in our wood, metal, print, digital fabrication shop/facilities.

SoVA offers several studio degrees. The Bachelor of Arts (in Art) provides the student with the opportunity to pursue a broad-based liberal education with a concentration in selected studio areas. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (in Art) provides preparation in art that enables the graduate to pursue a professional career through immediate involvement in personal creative work, and through graduate study. Students in the B.F.A. have the opportunity to pursue a concentration in a range of studio areas. Entry into the B.F.A. degree program is determined by a review of students' placement portfolios by School of Visual Arts faculty.